If you find yourself in a conversation about dieting or weight loss, chances are you’ll hear about the ketogenic, or keto, diet. The keto diet has become one of the most popular methods worldwide among people trying to lose weight and improve their health.
Some research suggests that adopting this low carb, high fat diet may promote fat loss and improve glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
The keto diet may also have neuroprotective effects and help improve cognitive function in people with Alzheimer’s disease, though more research is needed (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
While the keto diet does seem to have some benefits, it is typically high in saturated fat. This can raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in some individuals, which may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
For this reason, the keto diet may not be a good option for everyone.
Additionally, the keto diet is not recommended for people who are pregnant or nursing, or those who have kidney disease, liver disease, respiratory failure, cardiac arrhythmia, or type 1 diabetes (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
If you’ve been thinking about trying the keto diet and have gotten the thumbs up from your doctor, use this article to learn more about what to eat and what to limit while following a keto diet.
When following a ketogenic diet, carb content is between 5–10% of calories consumed, though looser versions of the diet exist (7Trusted Source).
Fats should replace the majority of cut carbs and deliver approximately 60–80% of your total caloric intake.
Proteins should account for around 10–30% of energy needs, while carbs are usually restricted to 5%.
This carb reduction forces your body to rely on fats for its main energy source instead of glucose — a process known as ketosis.
While in ketosis, your body uses ketones — molecules produced in the liver from fats when glucose is limited — as an alternate fuel source. Plus, keto diets reduce hunger and increase satiety, which can be particularly helpful when trying to lose weight (9Trusted Source).
Research shows that ketogenic diets are effective at promoting weight loss — though they may be no more effective than other weight-loss diets (9Trusted Source).
The ketogenic diet revolves around high fat, low carb food choices and limits highly processed foods and trans fats. Keto-friendly beverage options should be sugar-free when possible. Consider water, sparkling water, or unsweetened green tea and coffee.
A sample keto menu for 1 week
The following menu provides fewer than 50 grams of total carbs per day. As mentioned above, some people may have to reduce carbohydrates even further in order to reach ketosis.
This is a general, 1-week ketogenic menu that can be altered depending on individual dietary needs.
Breakfast: two eggs fried in butter served with sauteed greens
Lunch: a bunless burger topped with cheese, mushrooms, and avocado atop a bed of greens
Dinner: pork chops with green beans sauteed in olive oil
Breakfast: mushroom omelet
Lunch: tuna salad with celery and tomato atop a bed of greens
Dinner: roast chicken with cream sauce and sauteed broccoli
Breakfast: bell pepper stuffed with cheese and eggs
Lunch: arugula salad with hard-boiled eggs, turkey, avocado, and blue cheese
Dinner: grilled salmon with spinach sauteed in sesame oil
Breakfast: full-fat yogurt topped with Keto granola
Lunch: steak bowl with cauliflower rice, cheese, herbs, avocado, and salsa
Dinner: bison steak with cheesy broccoli
Breakfast: baked avocado egg boats
Lunch: Caesar salad with chicken
Dinner: pork chops with vegetables
Breakfast: cauliflower toast topped with cheese and avocado
Lunch: bunless salmon burgers topped with pesto
Dinner: meatballs served with zucchini noodles and Parmesan cheese
Breakfast: coconut milk chia pudding topped with coconut and walnuts
Lunch: Cobb salad made with greens, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, cheese, and turkey
Dinner: coconut chicken curry
As you can see, ketogenic meals can be diverse and flavorful.
Although many ketogenic meals are based around animal products, there is a wide variety of vegetarian options to choose from as well.
If you’re following a more liberal ketogenic diet, adding a cup of berries to your breakfast or a small serving of a starchy vegetable to your dinner will increase the number of carbs in this meal plan.